I wrote this in order to contribute my story to the collective rising chorus of women’s voices that must be heard. It’s complex, painful, real, and it belongs to me. It’s not simple, and it never was. It’s something I carry with me to this day, twenty-seven years later. It’s part of who I am. I am preserving my openness and vulnerability here, despite my own pain.
I had an abortion. I was young, but I wasn’t a child. I remember standing in the kitchen of my boyfriends apartment, me holding the test stick, while he looked at me across the expanse between us, him holding a beer, “If you have it, I will leave the state.”
All these years later I still ache for that young woman standing there so abandoned. I wasn’t close to capable or ready to do it alone. I had a crap job and was in school part time, with a car that worked sometimes. I was still on my parents medical insurance.
I told my mom & she was supportive, said it was my decision. I didn’t want it to have happened at all. I wanted to wind back time and not stand in this adult space I wasn’t ready for. But bodies work, even if we’re not ready, even if they’re violated, even if they’re children.
That was my first real adult moment in my life. There was no rewind or do over, and whatever decision I made was going to change me.
That’s the thing. There are as many abortion stories as there are women. No two stories are alike, because no two women are alike, and there is no other person who can inhabit that space or make that decision for that woman in that moment. It’s impossible.
I was *very* fortunate in that I was able to go to my regular doctor and my regular insurance covered me like any other OB/GYN health issue. No one knew why I was there, and I didn’t have to walk through protestors calling me a baby killer.
I went in alone. I remember the kindness of the nurse. I remember laying on the table, tears streaming down my face, and her placing her cool hand on my cheek and telling me it was okay to feel whatever I was feeling.
The thing is, as sad as I was–and I was–I also knew I was doing the right thing for my life. It wasn’t a choice I ~wanted to make, but doing nothing would have meant a life I didn’t want, and wasn’t in any way prepared to lead.
My abortion both wounded and empowered me. There was no way I was ever allowing myself to be forced into that space again. I took charge of my body and fertility in a way I had been passive before. Men can (and do) walk away. Women cannot.
Because I had access to good birth control I was able to ensure I never had to face an unintended pregnancy again. Because I had access to a safe procedure performed by a doctor, I also was able to preserve my fertility & health so when I ~wanted a child I was healthy & able.
It’s been many, many years since that day. I know how complicated, scary, and vulnerable it is to be unexpectedly pregnant. I could never presume to know what is right for ANY woman’s life in that position, and I will support every woman in whatever decision she reaches.
I went on to get married years later, and to have three beautiful, happy, healthy and very wanted children. They are all teenagers now, and I have spoken frankly with them about this part of my life, and about birth control, fertility, and the realities of their bodies.
We have solid empirical data on keeping abortion rates low: Access to birth control. Real sex education. That’s it. It’s that simple. I cannot believe I have to say this shit, but women are human & bodily autonomy is a human right. Full stop.